Mitchell Increases Road Repair Funds for New Bedford [VIDEO]
Recently, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell submitted a loan order to the City Council for the next round of projects under the city's Capital Investment Program. That loan order allocated $1 million for road repairs in the city. The Council tabled the loan order, and requested Mitchell add more funding for roads and trim back on some other proposed improvements.
In his weekly appearance WBSM today, Mitchell said he had added another $600,000 for road repairs. He said he's glad the Council is on board with making road repairs and is asking for more money for them, but he also wants to make sure it's not a one-time thing.
"We have a limited amount of money to do these big capital repairs, so we have to choose wisely," he said. "We started the road program last year, something I had proposed to the City Council. The plan was for the city to spend a million dollars on top of what we get from the state. I'm glad the City Council in on board now and is actually asking for more, because that hadn't been happening before I proposed it last year."
Mitchell said the City has put money toward roads "from time to time, when lots of people were complaining about them," but said the plan has to be more than just throwing money at the problem when people complain.
"I think our roads can be made better, but it's going to take a sustained commitment to spend on them year in and year out, until the condition overall across the city changes," he said. "So that's what we're striving to do, rather than just throw a bunch of money at it one year."
The mayor said he "shaved off" some of the funding required to renovate the exterior and the grounds of New Bedford High School, and pushed back work on the City Garage, in order to come up with the additional $600,000. He is also pushing back repairs to the West Beach Community Building.
"The City has 96 buildings, and many have not been maintained properly over the years," he said. "Over the last few years, we've gotten the City into the practice of taking care of its stuff better."
The City Council will vote on the revised CIP loan order at Thursday night's meeting, but Mitchell expects it will be referred to the Finance Committee for a hearing on April 18.
Also on the agenda for Thursday night's meeting is the first reading of a revised version of the city's Problem Property ordinance. The newly-strengthened ordinance passed unanimously through the Committee on Ordinances back in March, and the full council will vote on it at tonight's meeting.
The revised ordinance lowers the number of police complaints required to designate a property as a "problem," from eight down to four. Once a location is deemed a "problem property," any future police responses may lead to the landlord being billed by the city.
The revised ordinance also calls for a landlord's name and contact information to be posted inside the residence.
The ordinance also shortens the amount of response time the city will give a landlord to clean up a messy property from 14 days to five days, at which point the city can send in a cleanup crew to be billed to the property owner.
Mitchell said the revised ordinance shows how his administration and the City Council can work together in the best interest of the New Bedford.
"It was a good example of how the administration and the council worked through some new proposals well, and had a good exchange of ideas, and I expect all those things to pass well," he said.
Also, the New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge will be shut down for 10 days beginning April 20, and Mitchell was quick to point out that the state is in charge of the bridge, and not the city, should anyone be inconvenienced by the closure of the bridge that first opened in 1900 and has already been deemed "functionally obsolete" by a recent study.
"It's an unmistakable reminder of just how old and obsolete that bridge is, and how it needs to go, and how our folks who represent us in the state legislature need to push to get that replacement funded," he said.